What I'm Seeing Now


When A Dryer Vents Through The Roof

When a dryer vents through the roof.

I see it all the time, and for about 20 years now.  Dryers that vent through the roof.

To me it is not a smart installation.

And problems are inherent for any homeowner with dryers that vent through the roof.

Builders will say it isn't a problem because clogs happen right behind the dryer, don't you know.

Well, clogs might develop there, but for the most part the most dangerous place to clog is at the roof.

And that is the MOST FREQUENT place dryer vents clog.  I have dozens of photos showing completely clogged dryer vents at the roof line.

The dryer vent on this house passes through the roof just above the left side of the left window in that photo.

Look at what is outside.

Is there access to the roof from there?

No.  Unless a ladder can be put there with legs that are different lengths side to side. 

I've never seen one of those.

From outside the house the red arrow indicates where this dryer vent exits the roof.

That roof is three stories high.

Most homeowners don't have ladders that tall.

And if one hires a pro to go up there, the height demands two people to manage the ladder safely. 

That will get expensive to have the dryer vent cleaned regularly!

Here is the other problem.

Dryer vents look mostly like this.

Not only is the vent difficult to get to, it is so high and far away it is hard to see when it clogs.

This is the view you see from the ground.  With a binoculars one might get a close enough view to see it.  But even then, it's hard to tell when it needs to be cleaned.

But look at the other problem.  When it snows deeply the dryer vent is covered and blocked!

This is not a smart installation for so many reasons! 

My recommendation:  dryer vents are easily clogged and pose dangers when they do.  Thousands of dryer fires happen every year due to clogging and overheating.  I have understood that 5% of household fire deaths happen because of dryers.  So maintenance is critical!  How often do the vents need to be cleaned?  When they clog!  Typically once a year, but that depends on the family, washing habits and type of clothing most of the family wears.  Don't mess with Mother Nature.  She always wins in the end.


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 7 commentsJay Markanich • April 20 2017 09:22AM


Good morning Jay. Had a vent through the roof and had to have it cleaned yearly! Expensive! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 4 years ago

I never understood why dryers vent to the roof. This is not the first time you have written on the subject, thanks for explaining the reasons why venting the dryer through the roof is not a good idea Jay.

Maybe you need to invent an after-market product that would allow cleaning to be easier from the inside.  :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) almost 4 years ago

Good morning Jay. I read your title and laughed. You don't have to be an expert to know this is simply dumb.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 4 years ago

When it rains and the vent gets wet because of splashing, little pieces of lint stick to it and it just builds and bulids till one day...

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 4 years ago

Wayne - that is what you are left with!  Unless you schlepp yourself up there and get to work!

Tom - that is because this is a pet peeve of mine!  From inside is usually pretty difficult as the opening is near to the ridge or the edge of the roof and hard to get to from the attic.  Maybe Billy Jays can come up with something!

Sheila - the first time I saw it was at an "active adult community," and my client was in her 70s and when I showed her the dryer vent she said, "How the hell am I supposed to clean that!?"  Exactly, I said.  She was a pip, and knew right away what the problems would be.

Fred - yep, and I have the photos!  Boy, that Don Hester sure makes a good fire fighter model!  Do you know what month he was on that calendar series?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

That's something I hadn't considered before.  Fortunately, my dryer vents to the opposite side of the wall.  

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) almost 4 years ago

And mine under my deck, Myrl.  It's about 6'6" high, and easy to see and clean.

Easy accessibility is the best idea, in my opinion.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 4 years ago

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